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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Glennon Threatt, June 16, 2005. Interview U-0023. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Desegregating a gifted education class

Threatt sandwiches an interesting story about desegregation between two brief genealogies of his education. He remembers his first experience with desegregation, when he and two other academically gifted black students were selected to join an all-white gifted class.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Glennon Threatt, June 16, 2005. Interview U-0023. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KIMBERLY HILL:
We are going to be discussing his experience in school desegregation in the Birmingham schools. We are going to start with his elementary school, go through high school and then your general impressions of how desegregation changed Birmingham. Whether you think it was a good change or if there are other goals that needed to be filled.
GLENNON THREATT:
Well, I went to several elementary schools. My mother was a [unclear] elementary school teacher, she was a physical education teacher at McCaw Elementary School. At the time, if you were a teacher you could bring your children to school when they were five. So, my mother took me to school with her and I started at McCaw Elementary in the Pratt City area of Birmingham when I was five years old. That was probably 1962, it was September of 1962. I went to McCaw for first grade. About half way through the first grade they skipped me to the second grade because I could already read. Then I went to the third grade the following year. I stayed at McCaw and finished third grade there. In fourth grade I went to Wilkerson School, which is over in between College Hills and East Thomas. Again, these are both all black schools at the time. While at Wilkerson in the fourth grade I got tested by a woman named Dr. Alexenia Young-Baldwin, who was an enrichment teacher. She is a Ph.D now, as a matter of fact, professor emeritus at the University of New York. She is a whirlwind authority on gifted children's education. There was a push to desegregate not only the regular elementary schools but also special education, which was for people who were physically handicapped or challenged, special needs and also gifted and talented and musically inclined. So, she tested a large number of black fourth graders in Birmingham and out of the group that had the highest scores they put together an enrichment class to go to Washington Elementary School, which is where I went in fifth grade. While I was at Washington Elementary School something happened in the case apparently, and they selected three of us from that all black enrichment class to go and integrate an all white enrichment class at Elyton School. So, I would have been in fifth grade then so that would have been in October, November or December of 1967. I went to that class and I stayed there and finished eighth grade at Elyton. There were only three of us that were in that class. We had one teacher the entire day, one by the name of Meta Ayers, who is still alive in the Birmingham area. After I finished there, I went to Indian Springs Preparatory School as a boarding student. I boarded there for all four years. When I graduated from there I was the third black graduate of Indian Springs. I got a scholarship to go to Princeton University, and I finished Princeton in 1978 with a degree in Political Science. Then I went to Howard University School of Law that fall and graduated from there with my Jurist Doctorate in 1981. So, that is the background of my education.